A Pre-Funeral Fellowship?

Over the past few decades, I have been fascinated with the evolution of all the pre-wedding events. It used to be that you would hear about a couple getting engaged and people would see them and see the ring and congratulate them and wish them well, just in the normal course of life. Soon the couple would set a date and everybody would start making plans for the wedding itself. Then things took a shift and people started having engagement parties. Once they get engaged they have a party to announce that they are engaged, and now there have been some pre-engagement parties. I suppose in time we will probably have a “We’re Thinking About Getting Engaged” party. I can envision we may even have a “We’re Thinking About Dating” party.

All of this change in the wedding process got me to thinking about funerals, not that funerals and weddings are alike (though some may be). Funerals, too, have changed over the years. What I would like to suggest is that maybe we can start having pre-funeral fellowships. I’m not talking about a get-together just before we have the funeral, but maybe scheduling such events three to five years before passing. You will still probably be able to be up and about and enjoy the attendees and the wonderful fellowship. It will allow you to see and visit with your friends and family that would come. Equally important, it will let you know who didn’t come!

Now it looks like Google can help us. Did you see they have developed a program? You fill in the blanks and they will tell you when you will die. Truth is, only God – not Google – has that program. As a group of young medical students were told, “Don’t tell a person when they’re going to die, because they may just hang around to come to your funeral.”

I know we don’t identify special days as these pre-funeral events, but I suppose that’s what family homecomings and Thanksgiving and Christmas get-togethers are, in part. At least, they are times of love and care and exchanging of our genuine care for others with the understanding that it could be the last gathering where we will all be there. Actually, the very best funeral occasion is the one that is described in the Bible as a post-funeral party.

This one is found in John 12:1-2. If you’re not familiar with it, that’s the chapter just after Lazarus was resurrected. John 12:1-2 says, “Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him.” Isn’t that great? They are going to have a big party because Lazarus is alive. He was dead and is alive!

The wonderful thing about that is there is a post-funeral fellowship being prepared, planned, and will be carried out for all of God’s people. Revelation 20:6 says it this way, “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” It’s the great gathering of God’s people who have come to know Jesus as Savior and Lord. Everything is being prepared, made ready, and all we need to do is to know that we know Jesus as our Savior and Lord.

If you don’t know Him, today is your day. You can trust Him as your Savior and welcome Him into your life. John 1:12 says, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” We may not change all these earthly funeral traditions, but we can know that what is prepared in glory is going to be a part of our lives — eternally.

The author can be contacted at directions@mbcb.org.

Jim Futral

Executive Director-Treasurer